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Interview With Spot/Up Rough
by Taper/Triad

This time around I decided to interview someone who is probably more known to the Amiga scene than the C64 one, which does not mean he has not been affiliated with the 8-bit world as well, of course. I'm talking about Spot of Up Rough, who also used to be a member of TRIAD for several years, and is one of the driving forces behind the Datastorm parties!

Taper: Welcome to Attitude, Johan! Could you please begin by introducing yourself?

Spot: Hi buddy! I just turned 40 and have been a scener since 1990 or so. I first saw Unlimited Bobs in 1988 I think and that was it! I had to get into this wonderful and mysterious underground computer scene! I started some local lame crews and learned how to pixel stuff. I also played around in trackers but wasn't very successful at the time.

I went to my first party in 1993 (Helloween Party in Skene/Sweden), where I met my first scene friends and joined my first real demo crew. This was the party that was front side news in Datormagazin (well-known Swedish computer magazine) for being attacked by nazis (Lacoste/Alpha Flight could be seen standing on a car waving a baseball bat IIRC).

Later on I joined a bunch of other groups like Duplo, and Three Little Elks. But later I started my own crew again (Up Rough), in 1998 out of frustration over the lameness in the scene at the time. Up Rough's mission was not to release demos at all but music disks with quality club music (house, jungle and dnb mostly), and we released some 25 music-disks or so. We didn't operate like a traditional demo crew. We partied hard together in the weekends and organized a few parties and club nights, we also DJ'ed at clubs and so on. We even had a street division that existed only to bomb the streets with Up Rough tags.

To get into Up Rough in the early days your mind set, taste in music and generally if you were a nice dude to hang with was what mattered most. We were more like a bunch of friends than a demo crew.

Around 2001 I joined TRIAD at a meeting in Bjuv organized by Taper. I really like the guys in TRIAD and I loved some of their productions.

I stayed in TRIAD for 10 years or so I think but I never really got into the group and took part, much to Taper's frustration. He has a nice story to tell you about a quick gfx fix I did for him. A really quick one. I aced it. Really. Ask him.

In 2011 we got inspired by the awesome Floppy parties in southern Sweden and the idea to try to do something similar to that but for all oldskool platforms was born. Me, Magervalp and Yonx shared the same car on our way home from a party in Helsingborg. They convinced me that we should host our own party. We called it DATASTORM and we put all our love and effort into it, and it paid off!

Taper: Thanks for that introduction! Let's rewind a bit to the days of your first demo experience, Unlimited Bobs on the Amiga. Did you own an Amiga yourself at that time, and if so, was it your first computer?

Spot: No. My brother in law, Hitchhiker/Digitech, had an Amiga 500 at the time. Before the Amiga he had been coding games and demos on the C64. One of the games being based on the TV-series V, but it never got released. In 1987 he released his first Amiga intro, Guru Meditation. I watched the process but I was more interested in games at the time. And let's be honest, a picture, a standard scroller and a looping sample wasn't THAT interesting! :D

Things progressed though. And pretty soon things started to get interesting. To answer your question, was the Amiga my first computer? No, it wasn't. I started out on the Commodore 64. I refused to accept that the Amiga had more colours and higher definition graphics and when some amazing image like the Defender of the Crown graphics or something similar popped up on my screen, I ran into Hitchhiker's room shouting: Look! It's just as good as the Amiga graphics! He usually chuckled and pointed out to me how it wasn't even close to the Amiga's graphics. Meh.

At this time I doodled around a lot in Koala Paint. One image a day usually. When Hitchhiker wasn't at home I snuck into his room and was secretly amazed about DPaint. Officially Koala Paint was JUST as good, though!

This was around 1987/1988 and it wasn't until 1990 when Hitchiker bought his second Amiga with Kickstart 1.3 that I got his old 1.2 A500 cheap. I took a while to adapt to all the colours. What really got me was the animation capabilities. I started doing animations about a worm that got killed in various ways. One animation a day. Damn! Those where the days!

Taper: In your introduction you mentioned the Helloween Party in Skene as being your first party. I certainly remember the headlines in Datormagazin about this scandal-party. Considering your party track-record since then you were clearly not put off by it. Some would say a Swedish party without Up Rough presence ain't no party. What is it that makes demo parties so special for you?

Spot: Back then it was magic. You had a chance to see all the famous guys that you looked up to so much. I was young, everything was really exciting. We broke new ground. It was a cool thing to be part of. You also made shitloads of new friends. And the most important thing of course, seeing/hearing your work in the compos is always thrilling if you have put your soul into something.

Today I mostly visit Swedish oldskool parties. They are smaller and cosier, and the vibe is really nice.

The last big international party I went to was Breakpoint in 2004. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the Swedish parties. It's fun to meet your international friends once in a while though. The bigger international parties have this PC vibe to them that I am not that fond of.

Taper: Talking about parties we have to talk a bit about Datastorm, without doubt one of the best series of parties ever to grace the scene in Sweden!

Spot: Oh, thank you! Coming from you, it really means a lot!

Taper: It warms my heart that it was the old Floppy parties I was involved in organizing that served as part of the inspiration for you guys when you started up DS. Why do you think Datastorm managed to provide that very special experience that only the best parties offer?

Spot: Making a good party really takes an effort. Hard work, hard work and more hard work! We knew from the start that if we were gonna do this, we wanted to be among the best parties out there.

Focus. Oldskool only. That's what we are into. Mixing the modern scene and the roots scene fucks up the atmosphere.

Get the right people to come. We worked on a personal level on getting a lot of legends to show up at DATASTORM. Some of them are regular visitors today and some are taking part in the compos.

What I really learned from Floppy is that being a small party with few resources needs you to focus on what's important. Nice beamer slides and things takes time to do. Typing on a C64 live works equally good and, if you ask me, adds to the overall vibe.

PR! We really put a lot of effort into making DATASTORM visible. Some years we've had 8-10 invite intros spread out over all kinds of oldskool hardware.

Location. The location and the lovely staff at Truckstop Alaska breathe DATASTORM as much as we do. They are 100%... eh.. focused 24/7 during DATASTORM. They take part on stage and they help build up the party the week before. Much love to them!

Entertain the crowd. Make shit happen. Make interesting people talk. Get them to show unreleased stuff (Dice with Hardcore for example).

And so on. We never really stop working on DATASTORM. The hard work starts some 6 months before the party but it's with us every day. Ideas need time to grow.

And the most important thing. You guys. The visitors, you make DATASTORM shine! Some time to a level where I fought tears in my eyes.

Taper: You mentioned you were a member of Duplo and Three Little Elks on the Amiga. Which was the first group you were a member of?

Spot: The first group I didn't start myself was Syndrome. A local group from Boras.

Taper: Besides being a graphician, which other tasks have you had in the groups you've been in?

Spot: Hahah, most of them! Organizer, musician, coder (web), ASCII artist.

Taper: I remember the meeting in Bjuv where you ended up coming back to the C64 and joining TRIAD. There were some surreal things going on during that meeting that can't be explained to the afterworld... It was in 2003 and not 2001 as you remembered it, though. In your opinion, what's the biggest difference between the C64 scene and the Amiga scene?

Spot: For some reason I get along better with C64 guys. The laid back and quite stoned atmosphere in the Swedish C64 scene at the time suited me perfectly. The biggest difference today... Hmm... I think the biggest difference is that the C64 scene is older and more mature. A lot of guys that took a break from the scene to start families have returned to the scene as their kids have become big enough to take care of themselves. So the C64 scene is growing again. And with that they bring in a lot of work life experience on how to manage projects and so on. This is true for the Amiga scene as well but not to the same extent. The cracking and preservation scene is waaaay more active on the C64 as well. FairLight made a quick comeback on the Amiga recently though. That was unexpected.

Taper: Funny that you mention it. No disrespect at all to the Amiga guys, but it's also my opinion that the mentality between C64 and Amiga sceners does differ. However Up Rough is a bit of an exception, I'd say Up Rough members would fit right in on the C64 scene if they wished.


You are a band of filthy hardcore data boys and it's no surprise some of the Up Rough members have done occasional work on the C64. Could that be one of the reasons for your long allegiance to Up Rough, which you co-founded 20 years ago? That the spirit and mentality is C64-esque, I mean...

Spot: Hehe, yeah, we are filthy and we are data! We built Up Rough on musical interest and pure friendship. It was never only about the scene. Up Rough is for life!

Taper: During your stay in TRIAD, which was almost ten years, you did some cool graphics and design for a bunch of projects (especially Macho Programming comes to mind), but considering for how long you were in, the production output was perhaps not that massive... Honestly, are you a lazy slacker, and if so what do your parents think about that?

Spot: I am not a lazy slacker at all! I didn't find my place in TRIAD as it consisted of small cells that liked to work together.

Taper: You didn't know? We organise in guerilla styled cells, so if da man shuts down a cell, the rest can still resist by releasing more demos!

Joking aside, I have understood that what we occasionally viewed as laziness on your part was caused by your busy life, and not slacking. We really tried to make you feel at home, but it's easier nowadays connecting the whole group, when we have our own social media hangouts going on and a whole other level of communication. Perhaps it was a bit bad timing, considering your busy schedule. You can't say we weren't patient though, nine years patient.

That said, the Macho Programming experience is very dear to me, and your input on that project was invaluable!

Spot: Thanks, I enjoyed that as well.

Taper: Guess we have to reveal the story about the quick graphics fix you did. It was for one of the Sounds of the Amiga music collections. You drew the Workbench hand and the numbers 1.2 for the Kickstart version. Later, when we were about to release the next collection, I wanted you to change 1.2 to 1.3 on the Kickstart screen. A change of one digit... And you promised to deliver. And promised... And nothing happened. I mailed you. I called you. You stopped taking my calls (yes - I am a pain, but you deserved it!). So I had to locate the phone number of your co-worker Marcus Hamburger instead, whom I called and told repeatedly to poke you with a stick to actually change that digit! When you finally delivered we had already released the collection... Now it is rather amusing, but then I was annoyed out of my briefs! Comments?

Spot: Haha, well. Big things happened in my life at that time (starting my own business and stuff). I was stressed and my memory was short. Sorry for that. I really mean it! I had too many things on my mind.

Taper: You are forgiven, my friend. Rumours say you are less active on the Amiga these days as well, how come?

Spot: Yes. I released my latest scene production some weeks ago at Fjalldata, before that my last tune was released three years ago or something. Again, life. I've got a son since four years and I am still running my own company these days alone. Everything is going great though, I am involved in a really nice big project now as the lead UI designer. Time, I have none. With that said, I have been quite productive the last weeks with several scene related projects. The rest of my extremely limited time not spent with the family is spent on DATASTORM and other hobbies.

Taper: You will still help organizing the future Datastorm parties, I hope?

Spot: I hope so too. Last year the crew got a lot of new strong forces added, Wasp, Goto80, Orbiter and Deadguy. They are doing an awesome job. Deadguy and Wasp talked me into resurrecting DATASTORM that was dead for a year. I agreed if my workload could be made smaller.

Taper: Even though I'm dedicated to the C64 when it comes to demos, I guess more or less all sceners appreciate scene productions on other platforms too, if just as bystanders. My favourite GBA demo ever (and actually one of my favourite other-platform demos overall) is Up Rough City, which you released on Datastorm 2014. It's an extremely slick production which partly borrows theme from Carpenter's Escape from New York, but above all else it has that special feeling and vibe that just punch you in the belly. When I first saw it live at DS I was so blown away that I almost shed a tear of pure excitement. Can you tell us a bit about the process leading up to that demo, and if it was a smooth or bumpy development ride?

Spot: Wow, thanks for the compliments! I never had so much fun making a demo as when making Up Rough City. Two weeks before DATASTORM 2014 me and Flubba decided that we wanted to do a little one-screener on the GBA for the console compo. We failed!

The demo was meant to only include the city parallax scene. When that was done we had way too much fun to stop there. We really got a good vibe going. We tossed ideas at each other and as soon as one of us tossed an idea out the other one pushed it further. The creativity really flowed and I worked on graphics until 4 in the mornings and the next day Flubba pushed me to make more graphics as he had another cool idea that he wanted to realize.

Syphus made an excellent job on the music and Qwan had a tune lying around for the end part that he adapted to fit the theme. This is one of the demos that I am still quite pleased with. That's rare. I always hate the demos I am involved in as they always turn out half assed compared to what I wanted them to be.

Sure, this one ain't perfect either but with the short development time and the midnight hours, I can forgive myself and be happy with it.

Taper: There is quite a few sceners who are into arcade gaming. Like me, you are also one of those bitten by the coin-slot fever. What is so fascinating about old arcade games for you?

Spot: Back in the days they delivered magic that no home computer could. Pure magic. The best thing is that they are still magic and today we can afford having them in our homes. Few things beats having your friends over for some multi player action in Wind Jammers or Magical Drop II.

Taper: I guess we have covered quite a range of topics here, Johan! Is there anything you would like to add before we conclude this interview?

Spot: The tickets for DATASTORM 2018 will soon be released. Do visit the site at https://datastorm.party for more info! Keep making the scene awesome!

Taper: Thanks a lot for participating, even though finishing this interview was almost as hard as changing that Kickstart digit... I always enjoy talking to you - you are a very loveable guy! I guess that is why nobody kicks you in the nuts for breaking deadlines...

Spot: Hahahaha... Thanks! I love talking to you too!

TAPER/TRIAD

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